The first time I met author/illustrator/artist/awesome human being Janeen Mason, we were both sitting in the back of the room at an SCBWI conference. I think we ended up shooting spitballs at each other before it all said and done. And needless to say, we became great friends. She tagged me for this blog post; and, as of late, Janeen’s been hard at work on her Ocean Commotion series–beautifully illustrated stories about the magical world that exists just past the shore.
So glad you asked! I’m at this very interesting crossroads of promoting an existing book AND working on a new one. How to Cheer Up Dad is getting all kinds of really great press. It’s been awarded the Kirkus Star, a starred review from Booklist, and a starred review from The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. I even got to make a fool of myself on local network TV.
Beyond that, I’m also working on my next super-duper-top-secret project for Highlights. All I can say for now is that it’s called “One Day, The End” and it was written by the extremely talented Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Oh, and it comes out next Fall. Oh, and it’s incredible.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I know many other authors with whom I share a zest for life, a short attention span, and a happy-go-lucky spirit. That said, narrative voice is unique, and we each speak (and write and illustrate) with our own voice. I love stories that wink at the reader, and make them feel like they’re an insider on a joke that the characters in the story don’t even get. I love text that goes sideways to the images. And I love hiding things in the story that pop back up at just the right moment to make you chuckle. And since I have no formal training as an illustrator, I also have the dubious task of faking it. 🙂
Why do I write what I write?
I love the idea of a world where everybody gets along, people are fair and honest and humble, and we look out for our fellow human beings (and elephants). I hope my work inspires others to reflect on their own lives and then maybe go hug a tree, a stranger, or even a loved one.
How does my individual writing/illustrating process work?
To this day, I still pick up shiny objects. Sometimes, when you pick up a shiny object, it’s a gum wrapper and you throw it away. Sometimes it’s a quarter and you put it in your pocket to use later. Sometimes, you don’t even know what it is until you spend ample time with it, carefully cleaning it and polishing it and researching its various markings and shape. And then, sometimes it’s still junk and you toss it out. Sometimes it’s still a quarter and you save it for later. But sometimes it’s real treaure.
Ideas to me are a lot like shiny objects, and I always start my process with ideas.
Next up on the blog tour, aka Rocking the Mikes.
Mike Curato has an instant classic on his hands as the author / illustrator of “Little Elliot, Big City.”
And Mike Boldt has been killing it with all kinds of good work, including “123 versus ABC” and “Ode to Underwear.”